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The power of Yoga

Brenda Rock is a restorative and hatha yoga teacher based in Slane, Co. Meath. Brenda received her 500hr certification from Yoga Therapy Ireland. She holds regular classes, one-to-one sessions and workshops at Ananda Centre.

This is Henry’s story. Henry* is a manager in a busy retail chain. His experience of yoga is limited to on and off participation of a hatha class. He has a good level of fitness as he runs and walks regularly. His general health has been good in the past. However, he suffered from an episode of serious exhaustion early last year as a result of his busy job.

Recently Henry’s immune system has been low, leaving him open to a bad ‘flu for three weeks. His digestive system is still trying to recover from this. His energy is not great, but his demeanour is positive. We agreed that Henry would come to a one-to-one session of an hour a week for three weeks and practice at least one of the poses for 20 minutes every day in between.

Pose 1: As Henry spends eight hours a day on his feet, I reckoned his legs could do with a rest. His hamstrings are tight so we practised a variation of Viparita Karani or Legs Up The Wall pose. This encourages lymphatic flow to help the immune system and encourage blood flow to the internal organs. As Henry did not have sinus problems from his ‘flu this pose was safe to use. Henry was happy to stay here for 20 minutes.

Pose 2: As Henry stands a lot I chose a Supported Twist pose to bring a bit of nourishment to the internal organs, spine and back. Twists are a great way to encourage the digestive system to engage physically. I wanted to bring relief to his back as well as his mind and the organs of the body. If the mind is relaxed then the digestive system will work properly too. It is an active restorative pose and this made it more suitable for Henry as he is not used to staying still for long periods because of his work and lifestyle. Henry stayed here for three minutes each side and found his back eased out in that time.

Pose 3: Finally we practised a Side Lying Savasana for 25 minutes. I chose this pose as it again encourages blood flow to the stomach, bringing nourishment to the digestive system. It is good for extreme exhaustion and, as Henry’s work is physically and mentally hard, I thought this would suit him. Henry feels drained after the ‘flu and this pose should be replenishing to him emotionally. The effects of this pose are deeply relaxing and he said after he would have been comfortable to stay longer than the 25 minutes.

Henry practiced Legs Up The Wall every day after work or before going to bed. He stayed in the pose for 20 minutes at a time. He said he definitely felt more relaxed and his mind calmer while doing the pose. He practised the Twist and Side Savasana intermittently. He said that his sleep has improved (even though he did not think it was an issue) and his legs did not feel so tired going to work on days six and seven of home practice. On week three he mentioned his energy was improving and he was making more time to look after himself. He takes a full lunch break now and notices his digestion is improving. He feels a lot more relaxed, less stressed – physically and mentally.

Tell me about Restorative yoga

Restorative yoga is a yoga practice that is both relaxing and rejuvenating for the body and the mind. It involves the use of props including bolsters or blankets, yoga blocks or belts; allowing the body into a yoga position comfortably and remaining in the pose for up to 20 minutes. Restorative yoga works deeply with the nervous system. In our society today most of us are in ‘fight or flight mode’, constantly using our sympathetic nervous system. This constant stress has serious effects on the body, resulting in everything from exhaustion to autoimmune diseases.

Restorative yoga allows us to work with our para-sympathetic nervous system, our ‘rest and digest’ side. It is a very suitable practice for beginners, anyone recovering from injuries and seasoned yogis alike.

Brenda Rock –,
Tel: 085 1502378
Facebook: anandacentre.slane
Instagram: @anandacentreslane

* Not his real name

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